– Hey Gemma. A serious question to start with. My mother-in-law is a witch. I’m pretty sure of that. Can you go over to her place and, you know, deal with her?
Sure. For a price (laughs). I don’t work cheap.
– OK. I’m happy to pay up.
Let’s do it.
– As kids, we all read Hansel and Gretel, the classic Brothers Grimm fairytale, and were terrified. Your film Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is an interesting concept. It takes us beyond the book. Can you give a quick description of the film?
Yeah. I play Gretel. Jeremy Renner plays Hansel. The story includes the original fairytale, but it also continues after the original fairytale ends.
The original fairytale doesn’t really end. It doesn’t button. They kill the witch, and then what?
– That’s what I liked about it. You see that Hansel and Gretel are actually real people. They have been through a terrible ordeal as kids – being kidnapped and almost eaten by a witch – so you’d expect them to have some “issues” after their escape.
Yes, they’ve obviously gone through some major trauma. They don’t have their parents anymore. The movie jumps 15 years later and we see they have changed.
– They sure have. You wouldn’t want to mess with Hansel and Gretel.
Right. Fifteen years later they have become witch bounty hunters and have become celebrities in the witch hunting world. If you are witch, you definitely don’t want to be in their path.
– They definitely went through a tough time. How about yourself over the years? I doubt you were kidnapped by a witch and in danger of being eaten, but have you had tough times where you have come out OK?
I think it is a blessing to have tough experiences. You learn from them. You need to develop. It can be bad at the time, but if you can come out of it OK, it can be a blessing.
– Now for a very serious, important question. How long did it take you to get into the leather pants each day? They looked skin tight!
(Laughs). Oh man! There was a lot of talcum powder involved.
– It’s not fair. Jeremy didn’t have to wear the skin tight leather pants.
No he didn’t. It wouldn’t have been a good look on Jeremy. It would have been a bit too much (laughs). I’d be like, ‘No way Jeremy. Too early in the morning for those!’
– You looked great in the leather. It must have been a hassle putting it on, but for us audience members, it was well worth it.
I had to wear a corset as well. I had to suck everything in and then, cinch in. Then the gloves, but it was great.
– I like how Hansel now has diabetes from eating so much of the witch’s candy house?
Yeah. He has diabetes. He can’t figure if he has high blood pressure or low blood pressure.
– As a kid, were you a fan of the Grimm’s Hansel and Gretel fairytale?
I was. I loved it. It was quite a dark fairytale and did not really have a happy ending. I liked that, but it was also very scary to me.
– You must be happy with how your career is going, particularly with the big action films. You played Strawberry Fields in the James Bond film Quantum of Solace, we saw you in Clash of the Titans and Prince of Persia, and coming up you co-star with Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake in the crime-thriller Runner, Runner.
I am very blessed to do jobs that are my passion. Long may it continue.
– Gretel is such a powerful force. It must have been fun for you to play such a strong character. We don’t always see such strong female characters in Hollywood action films.
It was one of the things that really attracted me to the role. Hansel and Gretel are brother and sister, so there’s no romance there. Gretel is as strong as they come.
– As an actor you are playing different people all the time. You have to crawl into their skin. By playing other people, does that teach you more about yourself?
Yes. You have to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes. You have to empathize and understand the people you play, even if you are playing a villain.
It opens yourself up to what it means to be a human being. It allows you to get in touch with different feelings.
– There were some ugly witches in this movie. Who was your favorite wicked witch?
Famke (Janssen) is pretty hot.
– She’s also a Bond girl.
Yeah. I also like Zoe Bell’s witch. She is the first witch we kill. She’s the tall witch. And I love Ingrid’s witch (Ingrid Bolse Berdal). She’s the one with the purple hair. She is off the wall crazy.
– The weapons in Hansel & Gretel were medieval to look at, but extremely lethal. What was it like messing around with them?
We wanted them to look like we could have made them ourselves and they had to be advanced enough to defend us allow us to kill witches.
The weapons had to look like they were of the time, but weren’t of the time, if that makes sense.
– Your preferred weapon of choice was a frightening looking crossbow. How were you with it? If I put an apple on my head would you be able to hit it from 30 paces away?
I would probably hit your head by accident, not the apple (laughs). It was very heavy. It was hard to carry and I in fact whacked myself in the head a few times.
– OK. We won’t be doing any crossbow apple tricks then. One last question. If you were a bounty hunter, who would you go after in real life?
– Oh gosh. That’s a hard question (laughs). There’s a lot of people who I’d go after – pedophiles, rapists and tax collectors.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is out now.